The past decade has been full of social revolts and attempts to change the status quo. From the Arab Spring to the most recent uprisings in Hong Kong and Latin America, people across the world are not satisfied with their leaders and there is a widespread sentiment of rebellion.
I believe the will to protest and change the world is absolutely legitimate, and while some may say that protesting is a matter of civil responsibility, I’d argue that it is in fact a matter of revolution.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not inciting an armed revolution similar to those that have regularly happened in the past couple of centuries. Contemporary society no longer has space for such a thing. What I am saying is that the 21st century requires a new take on revolutions.
As capitalism reinvents itself, allowing people to keep consolidating power, protesting is increasingly looked down upon by those in charge. This idea is pushed down through the social pyramid so that even the middle class tends to favor conservatism and, sometimes, even reactionary leaders. This criminalization of protests makes it harder for any group that tries to create change to accomplish anything and be heard.
Yet, the key to the new revolution is as old as democracy and society.
To create change, people need to organize themselves, form groups and speak up for what they believe in, now more than ever. The new revolution needs people to actively stand up against oppression, question leadership and, most importantly, organize movements.
That is the only way towards progress.
You may ask, how does this apply to college students? What real power do we have?
A great example is the movement about food insecurity on campus last semester. A group of students gathered and organized protests for a cause they considered important, and in the end, won rights for students in need. Student organizations, in which most UK students participate, are also a tool to push for changes.
Whether it’s an organization that focuses on environmental issues or ethnic groups, these groupings are already in place and if well organized towards a cause, can also be part of their own small revolution.
As a society, we are not gaining anything from just accepting what we are told. We need to make change ourselves—especially the young generations who are going to be in charge in the future.
If we are truly a revolutionary generation, we can stop the criminalization of protests, opening the doors to real change through organization.